Hal Lifson’s Corner: Lenny Williams A Real Life Tower Of Power
Posted: Monday, July 17, 2017 – 10:13 AM
A couple months ago, I wrote about my buddy Doc Kupka, the sax man from the funk band Tower of Power.
When I had lunch with Doc, one of the things discussed was about the legendary soul singer Lenny Williams, who sang lead vocals on three of Tower of Power’s more famous 1970s albums and hits like What Is Hip?, Only So Much Oil In The Ground and the beautiful ballad So Very Hard To Go which former President Barack Obama cited as his “favorite soul love song.”
Lenny left Tower of Power in 1975 to embark on a successful solo singing career which produced a hit collaboration with Kenny G in 1986 Don’t Make Me Wait For Love Too Long and several songs he wrote and sung like Cause I Love You which was sampled by Kanye West when he produced the rap hit Overnight Celebrity for Twista in 2004.
Some 40 years ago this summer, Lenny released his Choosing You album with a hand clapping hit Shoo Doo Fu Fu Ooh which mentions “bumpin’ down Sunset Boulevard” and Johnny Carson and Dinah Shore talk shows. Check it out YouTube along with the recent Six In The Morning and the disco hit You Got Me Running which capitalized on the late ’70s running boom.
Doc and I discussed how great it would be to have Lenny sing with Tower of Power again and after Doc went to see Lenny perform recently, he talked to him about appearing with the band at the San Mateo County Fair this past June. I was there to see the historic reunion happen and Lenny is still in amazing vocal shape and recently released a video of himself doing 50 push ups to celebrate 50 years in the music business. Lenny will hopefully reunite again with Tower of Power next year for its big 50th anniversary shows in their shared hometown of Oakland.
I invited Lenny to lunch recently and we hit my corner booth office at Nate ‘n Al to discuss a PR comeback campaign that I want to orchestrate for Lenny, as he is such a distinguished singer that deserves more media attention.
I first saw him perform in 1974 with Tower of Power at Birmingham High School and Chuck Berry was on the bill that day too. Lenny ordered an Al’s chopped salad, keeping in tip top shape is a priority. I persuaded Lenny to have one chocolate covered marshmallow at Edelweiss Chocolates to seal the deal.
I submitted his song You Got Me Running to my former Olympic track star client Nick Symmonds to use in his training videos for his first ever marathon Nick will run in Honolulu this December.
I am trying to arrange for Lenny to be one of the guest singers at the “Summer of Love” concert that Stephen Wise Temple will perform Aug. 17 at Beverly Canon Gardens.